The sound of the caterpillar tracks could be felt as much as heard, a deep rumble that sent a rattle through windows and a tremble of fear through the guts. Then we saw them. Huge Soviet-made T72s, accompanied by troop carriers driving slowly into town, extra plates welded onto the sides to deflect rocket-propelled grenades. It was just after 9.30am, and the tanks were coming to Saraqeb.
“Light the tires!
The rebels of the Free Syrian Army in Saraqeb, a farming town of 30,000 in northern Syria, are better organized than many in the surrounding Idlib province. Squaring themselves away into formation around the central marketplace, they poured petrol on to truck tires and lit them sending plumes of thick black smoke into the air, obscuring the sun and – hopefully – the tank gunners’ visibility.